International Women’s Day – How Cheryl Broderick strives to breed the best
- 9 March 2023, 14:20
The Broderick family and Ballypatrick have been synonymous with competition and breeding success in recent years. Cheryl Broderick heads up the breeding operation at Ballypatrick, she spoke to Horse Sport Ireland about her role in the business and the support she has experienced as a woman working within the Irish Sport Horse industry.
For five generations the Brodericks have been farming the same land at Ballypatrick in Co Tipperary. However, Ballypatrick is a multi-facet enterprise with two farms. Fortwilliam is specific for the breeding operation with six resident stallions and some of the best bred mares in the world while Ballypatrick has a state of the art training and competition facilities as well as a multinational sales operation.
There is no doubt that Cheryl loves what she does, working closely with her family to help produce top international horses is a dream from many. Speaking about this Cheryl explains:
“I’m very lucky to work alongside my family every day. And to continue to be part of the history of Ballypatrick. I’m lucky to get up every day and do what I love.”
“It’s nice that we have our own niche here at Ballypatrick, we’re part of the one business, but it’s opened up and expanded. I’m in the breeding, Olga my sister is in the office and runs the accounts and then Greg is extremely busy with the show jumping, the sales and the training of students. It’s evolved that we all have our own roles,” she says.
Cheryl is one of Ireland’s most successful breeders. Last year she won the Leading Breeder’s Prize at the RDS Dublin Horse Show while homebred BP Goodfellas, ridden by Gerard O’Neill, won Gold in the 5-year-old FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium.
Speaking about the success of last year Cheryl adds: “Everybody wants to be Leading Breeder at the Dublin Horse Show and that was always something that I aimed myself towards. I was knocking on the door a couple of times and last year I won it, which was brilliant.
“When you look down through the list of people who have won it before me there are from very good yards and very good breeders producing great horses so it’s nice to be included among those. After Dublin we went to the World Breeding Championships in Belgium. Our homebred horse BP Goodfellas won Gold in Lanaken for us. So I think 2022 is probably a year that I will remember for a long time.”
When asked if Cheryl had any advice for women looking to get involved in breeding, she says: “If you look at the equestrian arena in Ireland, there’s an awful lot of women that you can look up to and be inspired by. I think that for any woman coming into the sport it’s a brilliant game to be involved in. You meet such great people and there is great camaraderie between us.”
Cheryl is pragmatic that breeding is not always easy and requires its fair share of time and effort, but this is the same for men and women.
“Breeding is hard – it’s not a simple life. It involves a lot of long hours, and you don’t see your rewards until further on in your career, but I think it’s worth every bit of it. The enjoyment you get from a homebred winning a class and going on to do good things, I think nothing can compare to it,” she continues.
For both men and women involved in the industry, it’s vital to have the right support systems in place. Cheryl works closely with Horse Sport Ireland, benefiting from various breeding schemes and incentives.
“For a big yard like ours where we’re breeding between a large number of foals per year you have a huge interaction with HSI, the breeding department and registrations are particularly helpful to us,” she says.
Genders hold less defined roles within the Ballypatrick business model, it works by playing to individual strengths and working towards a common goal. For Cheryl, one of the most important relationships to keep the business moving in the right direction is that between her as the breeder and the riders.
A key piece of advice Cheryl would share with any breeder, man or woman, is to work closely with riders.
“I think as a breeder you need to work a lot with the riders. It’s an expensive game to breed and produce your horse. So getting advice from riders about your horse early in their career can be a great insight.”
“As foals in the fields Greg watches each of them looking for different characteristics; balance ,canter, type. When we loose jump them as three-year-old we watch their technique, scope, canter and balance. When they are ridden as young horses Kevin and Greg focus on their rideability, are they uphill, and what is the feeling they give them over the fence. They also assess what the horse’s potential and potential market could be.”
“It’s interesting to see the horses that suit the different riders, one might be better for Kevin or possibly for Niamh or Leah. I’m lucky to have an Olympian as a brother and Kevin Gallagher who was National Champion alongside me day in day out and I think their expertise help me become a better breeder.”
Cheryl is undoubtably proud to be a woman involved in such a successful business and her role within its growth. Success at Ballypatrick has been based around utilising what resources they have and the benefits of producing horses in Ireland.
She is very positive about the benefits they have found from producing their young horses through the Horse Sport Ireland aged classes, and Studbook Series.
“I find that HSI and the Studbook classes have been instrumental in the production of our young horses. Any of the horses that have gone on to do good things for us all came through the Studbook Series. Whether it’s the 4-, 5- or 6-year-old classes in the preparation for Lanaken I think they’re essential and I think they’re a great grounding for any breeder that wants to develop their horses in the right direction.”
She added that from the perspective of the breeder, knowing and understanding the requirements of the current sport is vital. “We need to breed modern horses that are commercial worldwide. This is something Cheryl firmly believes applies to all breeders, male and female alike.”
“Breeders should go to watch the HSI classes, to see the 4-, 5- and 6-year-old horses, use Clipmyhorse to stay up to date with show jumping worldwide. These tools are invaluable to breeders to keep an eye on what pedigrees are consistently coming through. What mare lines are producing good jumpers and what stallions are consistently breeding the most commercial top showjumpers “
Cheryl believes that there are few places as good to produce young horses as Ireland.
She adds: “In Ireland we’re very lucky, it’s a country that is known for production of young horses. We have good countryside, with good land and the horses have a great way of being brought up here.”
“You can get lots of mileage into your horses without ever having to leave Ireland . If you look at Greg’s Olympic horse, Going Global, he never left the country until he went to international level. He came up through the Studbook Series all the young horse classes. We have the best riders in the world so it’s up to us as breeders to keep breeding top horses for them!”